Microbial population dynamics during aerobic sludge granulation at different organic loading rates

An Jie Li, Shu Fang Yang, Xiao Yan Li*, Ji Dong Gu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

248 Scopus citations


Laboratory experiments were carried out to investigate the evolution of the bacterial community during aerobic sludge granulation. The experiments were conducted in three 2.4 L sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) that were seeded with activated sludge and fed with glucose-based synthetic wastewater. Three different influent organic concentrations were introduced into the three SBRs, R1, R2 and R3, resulting in chemical oxygen demand (COD) loading rates of 1.5 (R1), 3.0 (R2) and 4.5 (R3) kg/m3 d, respectively. Changes in bacterial diversity throughout the granulation process were monitored and analysed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) techniques. The experimental results demonstrate that glucose-fed aerobic granules could be formed without significant presence of filamentous bacteria. Granules formed at different loading rates had different morphology, structural properties and bacterial species. A higher loading rate resulted in faster formation of larger and loose granules, while a lower loading rate resulted in slower formation of smaller and more tightly packed granules. The biomass underwent a dynamic transformation in terms of bacterial species richness and dominance during the granulation process. The reactor with the highest substrate loading rate had the lowest species diversity, while the reactor with the lowest substrate loading rate had the highest species diversity. Different dominant species of β- and γ-Proteobacteria and Flavobacterium within the granule communities from the three different SBRs were confirmed by analysis of 16S rDNA sequences of the PCR products separated by DGGE. It is apparent that a few common bacterial species play an important role in the formation and growth of aerobic granules and help sustain the granular sludge structure in the bioreactors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3552-3560
Number of pages9
JournalWater Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic granulation
  • Biological wastewater treatment
  • Microbial community
  • Sequencing batch reactor (SBR)


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